How Making Time For Myself Made Me A Better Dad

I often work to focus my efforts and energies on intended results, intentional actions which are enroute to declared goals. And it can be easy to get pulled aside by the current controversy scandal or threat we told to be afraid of. Finding our own pace when everything else seems to be in turmoil is the leader’s gift and the father’s mantra.

We go all day. We work hard and as a dad, we often work too hard. We do our best to stay focused, have a life and make a difference for ourselves and our kids. And there are days where we are like rock stars. And there are days where we want to crawl into a corner with a warm blanket and be left alone. I don’t know any parent who hasn’t felt that way at least some time in their life.

And it’s an “all or nothing” life. We live like somehow we can be just like the perfect parent we see in social media, always positive, always making a difference, always doing the 10 things we read about in advice articles we read online. It’s not true. It’s the rare exception to the rule. Lining our expectations to be “everything all the time” makes us want to head for that corner with that blanket (mine has a heater, one of my daughter’s stuffed animals and a fleece blanket, how about yours?). Life is lived in the gray area. Some days we have a great morning, and the afternoon falls to all hell. Some days the morning is shot and the afternoon picks up. Sometimes news that comes in at 4:55pm and turns the ENTIRE day around with whoops of joy. And a day’s worth of effort can fall apart with bad news at the 11th hour.

Do what you can with what you have right now. And allow that to be OK.

So I’ve started running again. I used to run a lot. But I find myself in this weird transition. I start running, familiar pounding, pace, equipment and roads. But I’ll get 2 miles into the run and just stop. Just stop right there. Nothing wrong, I just stop for no reason. I don’t know why, other than something’s going on for me that hasn’t revealed itself. Yes, it’s in my head. For a while I stopped running completely after this started happening, or when I did run I’d quit when this occurred. And every time I made myself wrong for stopping (“What’s up with you?! Nothing’s broken, you USED to be a runner, are you mentally weak?”). Great stuff, I know.

But I’ve shifted the way I think about it. I’m in transition and it’s OK for me to take time to find my pace again. I’m going to run until I stop. And then I’m going to walk. I’ll choose a object in the distance and walk to the target (a tree, signpost, parked car). When I reach the target I start running again. And I keep running until I stop. And then I run again. Wash, rinse, repeat. I keep doing this for as long as I can. Saturday I ran 8 miles this way, and only stopped once in the last 2 miles.

I know I’ll make it through this transition, and it’s OK that I don’t know what’s going on right now. But I do know I warrant the personal compassion to allow this moment to be ok.

Allow yourself the time to find your pace. Maybe it’s time to walk for a bit before you run again. Get a beer with a buddy (can we make #BeerWithABuddy a thing?) Call your mom. Buy your wife flowers for no reason. Wherever you deny yourself the permission to pace yourself, walk a bit before you run again. I know you will run again, and for today it’s juuust fine to walk.

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